The Last Samurai - by Helen Dewitt

My father used to say with a mocking smile when things went wrong, which they for the most part did: Of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these, it might have been.

It was depressing in a literature to see all the languages fading into English which in America was the language of forgetfulness.

An idea has only to be something you have not thought of before to take over the mind.

I wanted to clear my head. I wanted strangeness and coldness and precision.

How cruel that we must wake each time to answer to the same name, revive the same memories, take up the same habits and stupidities that we shouldered the day before and lay down to sleep.

I thought: If ’twere done, ’twere well ’twere done quickly.

He looks very bright, said the woman. He is capable of logical thought, said Sib. It makes him appear exceptionally intelligent. The fact is that most people are illogical out of habit rather than stupidity; they could probably be rational quite easily if they were properly taught.